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:: Blogtober is a blogging challenge whereby bloggers are encouraged to post every day for the month of October. Many of my post topics have been taken from suggestions by friends and family. In general, expect my posts to be shorter, more random and of inconsistent quality! ::

I have finally submitted the papers for Spike's EHCP transfer review (the process through which the local authority confirms Spike's level of need and makes provision for it - or not). The whole process is fairly stressful and very time-consuming and, if you want a better chance of a good outcome, it is also expensive. I'll write another time about my on-going despair at the uneven level of provision for children with additional needs. It's not only a post-code lottery, but weighted heavily in favour of those that can buy in professional expertise.

Anyway, Ben and I are trying to get our house in order, both literally and figuratively, so there is lots to do, and I don't have a solid chunk of the day in which to write. I really want to complete Blogtober with a clean (or rather - completely filled) sheet, so I am having to think creatively about what I want to share.

I haven't posted about my crafty pursuits much. Regrettably, I have not had much time to get stuck in. But I wanted to write about printing a little, specifically my little Print Gocco. I've had this machine for probably a decade or more and I adore it. It's a Japanese self-contained printing system. I can't remember when I first heard about it, but it was definitely an internet find. In Japan, they are widely known and considered a child's toy. For a time there was a craze for printing greeting cards at home and it's estimated that a third of Japanese homes had a Print Gocco. That is exceptionally high market penetration for a niche device. The saturated market combined with the fading popularity of the craze for printing cards, meant sales plummeted. While no longer popular as a toy, the device was picked up by the arts and crafts market but, by now, the parent company, Riso Kakagu Corporation (inventor of the Risograph) had seemingly lost interest in the product. There was a ready supply of Gocco machines available on eBay for about £40 and Riso were still supplying the consumables (printing screens, inks and bulbs). I snapped one up.

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Compared to screen printing and other methods the Gocco is incredibly clean and fast. Essentially, all you need to do is prepare your artwork, place it on the printing bed, insert a screen into the printer and bulbs in the light box, and expose your screen which is done in a flash. Once the screen is exposed, you lift the stencil material, squeeze ink directly on to the exposed screen and replace the film. The screen is re-inserted into the printing machine along with your blank card or paper. Press down on the lid and -- *ta da!* You can then print over and over without having to re-ink.

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I love making my own cards, but when I needed volume (for example, at Christmas or for our wedding) the Gocco was great. I've never had time to do anything ambitious with it, but detailed, multi-colour art prints are entirely possible (see here, here and here)

The arts and crafts community's enthusiasm for the machine led to the Save Gocco campaign, but Riso's head could not be turned and no new manufacturer emerged. Riso stopped making the consumables, so they became hard to come by and more and more expensive. I didn't use the machine for about a year and when I hit the internet to replenish my screens, ink and bulbs, I realised the end was nigh. Supplies were really only available, at great expense, from one or two suppliers in Australia and Japan, with eye-watering shipping costs.

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I feel a little bereaved to think that my Gocco won't go on and on. I have managed to scrape together enough materials to produce maybe 10 more screens, but then my love affair will be over.

It's such a shame. The Gocco is a lovely, lo-fi little thing. The end-product is distinctive and quite sophisticated considering how quick and easy it is to print. Can someone please approach Riso for the IP or re-engineer the whole thing? I'm convinced a viable business could be made out of re-marketing it at the art and crafts community. 

Here are a few things I printed on mine over the years.

Apolz for the terrible late night photos.